Largest Producers of Gold by Country
China, Australia and Russia are the largest producers of gold in the world, but which countries round out the list? Find out here.
Gold has been making consistent gains in 2020 so far, surging to levels not seen in nearly a decade to top US$2,000 per ounce.
The price of gold started the year trading in the US$1500 per ounce. But as the year has progressed, the uncertainty surrounding the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as political turmoil in the United States and beyond has sent gold prices soaring to as high as US$2,051 in early August.
The majority of this surge in investment demand for gold can be attributed to record inflows into gold exchange traded funds (ETFs).
“The global response to the pandemic by central banks and governments, in the form of rate cuts and massive liquidity injections, fuelled record flows of 734 [tons] into gold-backed ETFs,” the World Gold Council stated in its Q2 2020 report on gold demand trends. “These flows helped lift the gold price, which gained 17 [percent] in US dollar terms over the first half, hitting record highs in many other currencies.”
Last year’s gold mine production worldwide was estimated to be approximately 3,000 tons, which is on par with the gold mined in 2018, based on numbers reported by the US Geological Survey.
So what are the top 10 gold producing countries that contributed to that output? Read on for a rundown of each country and what you as an investor should know about investing in gold stocks as they are a product of global gold production.
Mine production: 420 MT
Once again, China was the largest producer of gold in the world, mining 420 metric tons (MT) in 2019. The country has held its top position for more than a decade. China’s production dropped by 40 MT in 2018, and the decrease is thought to be the result of increased environmental regulations. According to the World Gold Council, China is also the world’s leading consumer of gold jewelry.
Mine production: 330 MT
Gold production in Australia had another high-performing year, reaching 330 MT in 2019, up from 315 MT in 2018. Recent exploration activity in the Pilbara region of Western Australia has renewed interest and helped increase the country’s consistent gold output. While Pilbara is typically best known as one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore, the region is currently in the midst of increased gold exploration thanks to a major discovery in 2017 by Novo Resources (TSXV:NVO,OTCQX:NSRPF) and Artemis Resources (ASX:ARV,OTCQB:ARTTF).
Mine production: 310 MT
Russia was once again the third-largest producer of gold in 2019. The country’s output has been rising over the past few years, increasing from 255 MT in 2017 to 310 MT in 2019. Additionally, the country plans to increase output over the next decade or so.
Russia is reportedly planning to raise its annual gold production in 2020 and beyond in a bid to become the world’s largest gold producer by 2029. According to the US Geological Survey, Russia’s gold reserves stand at 5,300 MT, the second largest gold reserves after Australia at 10,000 MT.
4. United States
Mine production: 200 MT
US gold production has been dropping over the past few years. In 2019, the US produced 200 MT, down by 26 MT from the previous year. Most gold in the country was produced at more than 40 lode mines, several large placer mines in Alaska and a number of smaller placer mines in the Western US. The top 27 operations in the country were responsible for 99 percent of American gold output.
An assessment of US gold resources revealed that there are approximately 33,000 MT of gold in identified and undiscovered resources. Additionally, close to one quarter of the gold in undiscovered resources can be found in porphyry copper deposits. Gold reserves in the US are estimated at 3,000 MT.
Mine production: 180 MT
Gold production in Canada declined marginally in 2019, allowing the nation to maintain its status as the fifth largest producer of the yellow metal. Last year, the country reported output of 180 MT of gold compared to 183 MT in 2018.
Mine production: 160 MT
Indonesia made the list of largest producers of gold by country in 2019, taking the number 6 spot from Peru. The mineral-rich country produced 160 MT of gold last year. Half of the country’s gold production originates from the Freeport-McMoRan’s (NYSE:FCX) Grasberg mine, the world largest gold mine, which is believed to contain the world’s largest gold reserves (67.4 million ounces.
7. Peru and Ghana
Mine production: 130 MT each
In 2019, Peru and Ghana tied for 7th largest gold producing country. Peru saw a decrease in gold production last year, with output slipping from 145 MT in 2018 to 130 MT in 2019. Illegal gold mining continues to be a struggle for the country, and has been responsible for the devastation of land, including patches of the precious Amazon forest.
Ghana’s gold production held steady from the previous year to once again produce 130 MT of the yellow metal in 2019. It is also worth noting that Ghana is also Africa’s largest gold producer, overtaking South Africa in recent years.
Mine production: 110 MT
Mexico is another notable gold producer, knocking South Africa out of the 8th spot in 2018 with production of 125 MT. In 2019, Mexico’s gold production fell slightly to 110 MT. While Mexico was plagued by underwhelming gold prices and maturing gold mines that caused production challenges in 2017, gold and silver account for more than 50 percent of the country’s total metals output.
9. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan
Mine production: 100 MT
Kazakhstan made it to the list of largest gold producing countries to tie for 9th place with Uzbekistan. Both countries produced 100 MT of gold in 2019.
Uzbekistan’s Muruntau gold mine is one of the largest open-pit mines in the world. Uzbekistan has been producing from old mines for quite some time, and has not seen much exploration investment. Kazakhstan’s most strategic gold producing mine is Glencore’s (LSE:GLEN) Kazzinc subsidiary’s Vasilkovskoye mine—one of the Swiss diversified miner’s biggest gold mines. The Vasilkovskoye mine has more than 5 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves.
10. South Africa
Mine production: 90 MT
South Africa has been one of the world’s top gold producers for decades, however the nation’s gold output has fallen 85 percent since 1980. South Africa’s gold production decreased once again in 2019, falling from 117 MT in 2018 to 90 MT.
In recent years, South Africa has been hit with political strife, mostly due to conflicts between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and gold producers in the area. AMCU has held many protests and strikes at several gold and platinum mines within the last few years in the hopes of garnering more wages and stopping any merger between companies in which the union believed job loss would ensue.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.